Carmaker Ford is to close two plants in UK with the loss of 1,500 jobs, it has been confirmed.
Ford's Southampton Transit van factory will close, leaving 500 employees out of work, while the stamping plant at Dagenham in Essex will also shut, making 1,000 employees redundant.
Both of the plants are expected to close next summer.
The news was revealed to union officials at a meeting with the management today.
Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: “This is devastating news for the workers in Southampton and Dagenham and is very bad news for UK manufacturing.
“Ford's track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures. There will be a feeling of shock and anger, and Ford's commitment on investment will cut little ice.”
It is understood that Ford plans to offer a generous redundancy package and redeployment to workers who want to stay with the company. Some new posts will be created at the Dagenham engine plant which will build the new Panther engine.
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes said the closure of the Transit van factory would be a “bitter blow” for Southampton and that she will do all she can to offer support to the workers set to lose their jobs.
She said: “Over 500 direct jobs will go and a wider number in the supply chain. It is critically important that we do everything we can to help those affected.
“The closure will have a significant impact on employment. These 500 employees have broadly similar skills and it is very important that they are given the maximum support possible.”
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, commented on today's announcement: "This is difficult and disappointing news for all the people and families affected by today’s announcement, but it is part of wider restructuring to ensure a stronger and more competitive European automotive industry. The immediate priority is to help those impacted secure alternative employment. The decline in European vehicle markets and the uncertain future growth prospects has resulted in a number of vehicle manufacturers restructuring their operations. These are difficult times for the European automotive industry as manufacturers adapt to new market conditions and changing patterns of global demand.
“Ford has renewed its commitment to the company’s core R&D, design and engine manufacturing operations in the UK and these will continue to provide long-term and high value employment to many thousands of people. The UK automotive industry has seen £6 billion of new investment from a wide-range of global vehicle manufacturers during the last two years and there is demand for skilled workers in the automotive industry and other high value manufacturing sectors.”
Ford employs 11,400 workers in the UK at plants including Dagenham, Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in South Wales.